Music in the Indonesian Sky: Report on a Kite Festival in Beautiful Bali

John Stevenson
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Because of Indonesia's current problems, the decision to hold the festival in the beautiful town of Sanur, Bali could not be made until two weeks before the starting date. At such short notice, less than a dozen international participants were able to join in the mid-year event. Guests came from Brunei, Singapore, Japan, France, Austria, Holland, and the U.S. Bali itself was more than well represented. One hundred and sixty banjars, or districts each provided a traditional Indonesian kite, some as wide as twenty feet and requiring as many as twenty people to fly, plus a supporting gamelan orchestra. It took three days to fly them all on the large festival field, close to the sea to catch the best winds.

The festival was organized around the three most popular traditional shapes of kite (or layang) in Bali: The bebean, a huge fish-shaped kite; the pecukan, a graceful bowed shape with two prominent hummers; and the janggan, a kite with a head in the form of a naga, or snake, and a 100-meter-long tail.

The huge bebeans are basically festival kites and for this festival had to be a minimum of five and a maximum of six meters across. The pecukan (pronounced PEchukan) is the everyday individual Balinese-kite-shape, but some of the pecukans at this festival were also up to six meters across.

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